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Brendan Prast, MD, is president of Maine Providers Standing Up for Healthcare, a group of hundreds of healthcare providers across the state.
The fight for reproductive justice and equal access to health care has taken a dangerous turn. And that’s why Maine Providers Standing Up for Healthcare, a group of hundreds of interprofessional healthcare providers across the state, vehemently opposes all laws that could limit access to healthcare, including including abortion, birth control, drugs for trans youth or any other attempt to deny individuals control over their own health.
The recent leak of the Supreme Court’s draft opinion shows what we feared: a progressive elimination of our reproductive rights in America. More than 600 abortion restrictions have been enacted since 2011, with more than 100 in 2021 only.
Although only a draft, this Supreme Court leak is one of the most drastic changes proposed. If Roe v. Wade is overruled, 26 states will restrict abortion access almost immediately due to prepared laws that will kick in once Roe falls. As health care providers, we know that limiting access to abortion or prohibiting it does not make it go away. All it does is push abortion further out of reach, restrict safe abortion care for vulnerable populations, widen health care disparities, and criminalize reproduction.
Abortion statistics often surprise anti-choice people, so it helps to point out specific facts. Abortion is very common – one in four people who can get pregnant will have an abortion before the age of 45. Abortion occurs across all age groups, ethnicities, and backgrounds, from downtown to rural to suburban. Most people seeking an abortion (54%) declare a religious affiliation and 59% have given birth before. While anti-choice politicians often discuss “partial birth” or abortions just before birth, in fact, 88% of abortions take place within the first 12 weeks, according to the Guttmacher Institute. As a healthcare advocacy organization, delivering accurate information is critical to combating anti-choice misinformation across the country, and we will continue to do so to protect our patients.
We represent a wide range of careers and backgrounds, so as a group we are keenly aware of the impact pregnancy has on people’s bodies. Whether due to emotional or financial stressors, physical changes, or the dangers inherent in pregnancy itself (bleeding, high blood pressure, gestational diabetes), pregnancy is not always a benign medical condition. All people who could become pregnant have the right to choose whether the pregnancy is right for them But not only is the right to abortion care challenged, but laws are also being introduced to limit access to birth control, whether in making it illegal or removing insurance coverage for it.
If these laws restricting access to reproductive health care were really about the safety and protection of newborns, their proponents would work to improve health care outcomes and access to care for parents and new babies. -born. Our maternal mortality rate in the United States is higher than in other developed countries. There is stark racial inequality in the number of pregnancy deaths, with the black and Indigenous maternal mortality rate being at least two to three times higher than that of white patients. But many of the same people who demand that people give birth to babies they may not be able to raise often refuse to support increased funding for child health care, financial support for families, leave parents or schools for these children after they are born.
Politicians who fail to improve care for our people, and instead pass misguided or hostile laws, must stay out of our exam rooms. Healthcare professionals have known this for decades, and now more than ever, we need to step up. Take this as an invitation to join us at upcoming events and gatherings – here’s a link to our website: StandupME.org. Donate to abortion funds (www.abortionfunds.org) nationwide to protect access to care, spread resources such as the Guttmacher Institute for objective information on reproductive health care, and speak out to your elected officials. And finally, remember this: Abortion is health. Abortion is a safe medical procedure and abortion, like any other healthcare, is a human right.